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A lot of the talk about semicolons has been pretty high-falutin', so I
decided to make a quick survey of industry practices among publishers whose
aim is to appeal to a mass audience with a none-too-high reading level.
Because I allotted myself only fifteen minutes for this task, I chose to
focus on the excerpts put up by romance publishers for their new releases.
HARLEQUIN ROMANCES: Out of five excerpts, not one used a single semicolon.
AVON ROMANCES: Two of four excerpts used semicolons in profusion; the other
two used none.
In both cases, I was taken by the wide use of typographical devices in the
excerpts: ellipses, em dashes, italics, quotations, and three asterisks
indicating breaks in the action. This certainly doesn't support the "commas
and periods only" school of punctuation.